Wildlife Summary

Galveston Bay is home to a wide variety of animals that play an important role in the ecosystemsShellfishfinfish, and bird populations are monitored to help determine the Bay’s health. Wildlife surveys conducted around Galveston Bay since 2000 indicate that most finfish and bird populations appear to be maintaining, while many shellfish populations have been declining and require action to prevent further losses. These declines could impact other species that depend on shellfish as a food source.

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C
Grade

What We Can do

Shellfish

Trends in shrimp and crab populations are good indicators of the quality and quantity of suitable habitat, as well as of food availability. Blue crabs and three species of shrimp (brown, pink, and white) are analyzed for the report card. Due to rapid human population growth in the area affecting habitat, pink shrimp and blue crabs have been in decline, however, brown and white shrimp have maintained their population levels. Overall, shellfish earned a D grade.

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Shellfish and Finfish

How many species have you caught?

What We Can do

Help Keep the System Balanced

D

Galveston Bay Shellfish

Finfish

More than 100 species of finfish can be found in the Galveston Bay ecosystem. Finfish are also the base of a significant recreational fishery. Surveys of finfish indicate that most populations have been consistent since 2001, earning finfish a C.

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Shellfish and Finfish

How many species have you caught?

What We Can do

Be a Friend to the Fish

  • Protect natural habitats. Wetlands and seagrasses are nurseries for young fish.
  • Improve water quality by reducing pollution and slowing runoff with rain barrels, or by using gravel instead of concrete.
  • Report any evidence of a fish kill to authorities.
C

Galveston Bay Finfish

Love fishing? Let's ensure our grandchildren can enjoy this sport in the bay as well

Birds

Birds depend on high-quality nesting and feeding habitat to thrive, making them an excellent indicator of the Bay’s health. After near extinction in the 1960s, a reduction in the use of harmful pesticides saved the brown pelican population in Galveston Bay. Since 2001, most bird populations have been holding steady, earning birds a C. Notable exceptions include white ibis populations, which exhibited significant decline, and brown pelican populations, which are more than 20 times larger than they were in 2001.

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Birds of Galveston Bay

Distinguished by the habitats where they nest and feed

What We Can do

Keep an Eye Out for Birds

C

Galveston Bay Bird

Invasive Species

Invasive species are harmful to natural systems and some are destructive to infrastructure. Invasive species are often very difficult and expensive to control and can damage crops, fisheries, forests and other resources. Reports of new invasive species in Gavleston Bay since 2001 have remained low since 2001 and no invasive species have become established in Galveston Bay. The rivers and bayous, however, earned a grade of D as there are multiple invasive species that have become established and are causing problems in our forests and waterways including water hyacinth, Chinese tallow, grass carp, armored catfish and the new-to-Texas zebra mussel.

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Invasives to Watch

Invasive species are difficult and costly to control, so prevention is key – If you don’t know it, don’t grow it!

What We Can do

If you don’t know it, don’t grow it

  • Plant native plants when available and watch local nursery and pet store inventories for known invasive species.
  • Remove invasive species from property, gear, equipment, boats, and trailers (clean, drain and dry).
  • Never release or dispose of unwanted plants or animals into the local environment.
  • Join a local invasive species removal effort or citizen scientist program
B

Galveston Bay Invasive Species

D

Rivers and Bayous Invasive Species

If you don’t know it, don’t grow it!

Want more? Check the grades on other Indicators.

Overview
Water Quality
Pollution Events & Sources
Habitat
Wildlife
Human Health Risk
Coastal Change